Page:Cousins's Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature.djvu/51

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Dictionary of English Literature

directness and intensity of feeling—sometimes tender, sometimes sublime—always individual. Latterly he lost himself in clouds of mysticism. A truly pious and loving soul, neglected and misunderstood by the world, but appreciated by an elect few, he led a cheerful and contented life of poverty illumined by visions and celestial inspirations.

Blamire, Susanna (1747-1794).—Poetess, was of good Cumberland family, and received the sobriquet of "The Muse of Cumberland." Her poems, which were not collected until 1842, depict Cumbrian life and manners with truth and vivacity. She also wrote some fine songs in the Scottish dialect, including "Ye shall walk in Silk Attire," and "What ails this Heart o' Mine."

Blessington, Margaret (Power), Countess of (1789-1849).—Married as her second husband the 1st Earl of B., with whom she travelled much on the Continent, where she met Lord Byron, her Conversations with whom she pub. in 1834. This is the only one of her books which has any value. The others were slight works on Travel, such as The Idler in Italy, annuals, and novels. She became bankrupt and went to Paris, where she lived under the protection of the Count d'Orsay.

Blind Harry or Henry The Minstrel (fl. 1470-1492).—Is spoken of by John Major in his History of Scotland as a wandering minstrel, skilled in the composition of rhymes in the Scottish tongue, who "fabricated" a book about William Wallace, and gained his living by reciting it to his own accompaniment on the harp at the houses of the nobles. Harry claims that it was founded on a Latin Life of Wallace written by Wallace's chaplain, John Blair, but the chief sources seem to have been traditionary. Harry is often considered inferior to Barbour as a poet, and has little of his moral elevation, but he surpasses him in graphic power, vividness of description, and variety of incident. He occasionally shows the influence of Chaucer, and is said to have known Latin and French.

Blind, Mathilde (1841-1896).—Poetess, b. at Mannheim, but settled in London about 1849, and pub. several books of poetry, The Prophecy of St. Oran (1881), The Heather on Fire (1886), Songs and Sonnets (1893), Birds of Passage (1895), etc. She also translated Strauss's Old Faith and New, and other works, and wrote Lives of George Eliot and Madame Roland. Her own name was Cohen, but she adopted that of her stepfather, Karl Blind.

Bloomfield, Robert (1766-1823).—Poet, b. at Honington in Suffolk, lost his f. when he was a year old, and received the rudiments of education from his mother, who kept the village school. While still a boy he went to London, and worked as a shoemaker under an elder brother, enduring extreme poverty. His first and chief poem, The Farmer's Boy, was composed in a room where half a dozen other men were at work, and the finished lines he carried in his head until there was time to write them down. The manuscript, after passing through various hands, fell into those of Capel Lofft, a Suffolk squire of literary tastes, by whose exertions it was pub.